Liberation Of Men And Women

Ben H. Swett
Christian Women's Fellowship
Bethany Christian Church
21 April 1980

We have heard a lot about women's lib in recent years. Now we are beginning to realize that men also need liberation. But what do we mean when we say that we want both men and women to be free? From what do we wish to be liberated?

God created us male and female, and saw it was good. Do we wish we were not male, or not female? If so, we wish to be released from biological reality. Or do we object to the human notion that one gender is better than the other? If so, we wish to be liberated from prejudice.

Societies define masculine and feminine behavior, and which traits they will approve or disapprove. If we seek liberation from societal stereotypes, we already have that freedom. We ourselves decide which traits we will consider masculine or feminine. We are each, in fact, the final authority for what we believe and what we advocate.

Therefore, it is proper for us to question the sexual stereotypes of our society. Is it wrong for a man to be gentle? If we say it is good to be a gentleman, why do we suspect gentle boys of being homosexual? If we admire the strength of our pioneer women, why do we sneer at female athletes? If we give dolls to little girls so they can practice being mothers, why not give dolls to little boys so they can practice being fathers? If Jesus wept, why can't big boys cry?

I believe it is time to set aside the macho image of brutish masculinity and the hapless image of fluttering femininity. It is time to base all employment and payment on ability rather than gender. And it is long since time to honor men and women equally, without preference or prejudice, according to their achievements.

But it is also time to think through what we will discard and what we will retain of our cultural heritage. Shall we declare that the role of a wife and mother is no longer an honorable profession? Shall we scorn as a workaholic the man who struggles to support his family? Do we wish to be liberated from the inherent responsibilities of marriage and parenthood, or from the moral restraints on our sexual lust? If so, we seek not liberty but license.

This society is not only redefining its images of masculinity and femininity; it is being inundated with heterosexual and homosexual propaganda. We are being led by libertines to condone lust in the name of love. Let us not be deceived. Real love and affection are not characterized by sexual lust. A man who loves a child does not seduce the child. A woman who loves a woman does not seduce her. Men and women who love each other respect each other; they do not regard each other merely as sex objects. None of the vital relationships are built on lust. Even a marriage must transform lust into love if it is to endure.

Jesus told us to love each other as he loves us: this is his new commandment.

And he said, if we continue to keep his commandments, we will learn the truth, and the truth will set us free--from our slavery to sin, in which we hurt ourselves and each other contrary to the will of God. What other liberation do we need? What freedom could be greater? And what guidance could be more straight-forward, more universal or more profound, than that which Jesus has already given us?

In his teachings, we have the key to liberation of men and of women, from the only real bondage, to the only real freedom--from false notions of what is right and wrong, to a real understanding of what is good and bad for us. The crucial choice is whether we will become more loving or less loving, more concerned for those around us or more enslaved by our own desires, more in harmony with God's kingdom or more compelled by the myths of our society. Jesus gave us the key a long time ago. Now--again--the time has come to use it.

Will you pray with me?

Master, we know our understanding is imperfect. We seek your kingdom and your righteousness--your view of what is truly right and wrong. We would see men and women, slavery and freedom, as you see them. We would see ourselves as you see us. Help us to see ever more clearly and ever more correctly.

With the light we now have, imperfect though it is, we ask to become more loving and less motivated by lust, more sensitive and less sentimental, more able to respond and less likely to react, more firm in self-control and less prone to hide in spineless silence.

Lord, help us to hear your voice amid the multitudes who claim to speak for you. Let us not be swayed by the glittering propaganda that would equate love with lust, sexuality with sensuality, liberty with license. Let us not be snared by the false images of male or female, masculine or feminine, moral or immoral, which have been put forth by this or any previous society. Guide our search for righteousness. Help us to become the men and women you would have us be.

Amen.